Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

March 8, 2007

SABRES: Other Ryan hoping to stick in Buffalo

The audition is as harrowing as any involving a wire-bound copy of “Hamlet.” Michael Ryan knows every night he’s able to suit up in the National Hockey League, he’s auditioning for the next night, hoping to stick with the parent Buffalo Sabres as long as possible.

During Wednesday’s loss to Colorado, Ryan’s audition needed just a few inches to become a hit.

Late in the third with the Sabres trailing 3-2, Dainius Zubrus found Ryan alone in the slot and the rookie winger ripped a shot that beat Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj. But instead of tying the game at 3-3, the puck rang off the post. Opportunity missed, if only by the slightest bit.

“I just hope I get another chance to play with those guys,” said Ryan, who has two goals in 10 games as a Sabres, both coming a week ago in a win over Montreal.

Those guys are Zubrus and Chris Drury, who were thrown together in an odd combination during Wednesday’s loss, and wound up getting some of the team’s best chances. The line didn’t muster a point, but buzzed around the Colorado net. They might be reunited tonight as Minnesota comes to HSBC Arena for an 8 p.m. face-off.

“That line had the better opportunities for us (against Colorado),” coach Lindy Ruff said. “But we’ll see how it goes next game.”

Next game.

For Ryan, the road to the next game hasn’t exactly been easy. Where teammates like Drew Stafford played less than a season before getting an extended call to the NHL, Ryan has toiled for the better part of three years in Rochester. And this after winning the Joe Tomasello Award, which goes to the most unsung player in New England.

But he’s starting to find his groove with Buffalo this time around, getting substantial minutes like on Wednesday, when he played nearly 14 minutes on 16 shifts. Before Drury returned, Ryan even killed penalties, a role he knew he’d soon relinquish.

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